After fourteen months of treatments for my illness, the doctor advised me that my fate was final and hospice would be my last destination.
For several days I was filled with dreaded fear and depressed from the doom and gloom news, but decided not allow bad news stop me from seeing Paris one last time. So with my health aid nurse in tow, we traveled to the Hotel du Louvre in Paris for a 7-day stay.
I fell in love with Paris 60-years ago as a junior executive with International Business Machines. As a single man, Paris opened her arms for me to experience its beauty and we fell in love.
I proposed to Simone, my late wife, in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower on a summer afternoon. It was us walking along the Seine River when she told me about being pregnant with our first and second child. The city is in love with me and I with her.
After three days of touring my city I looked towards the weekend on a Tuesday night and, I wanted to share my love of Paris with family and friends. I notified my children, some family members, and friends to visit me for the weekend in Pais France. I explained how I wanted to share a quiet remembrance ceremony with dinner and dance.
Ms. Baux handled the transportation logistics for twenty-five people flying on the same plane from London and land at 9:00 am on a Saturday at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. She procured a luxury passenger bus serving wine, appetizers, with foot and back massages and a short tour of Paris in its morning traffic before the two-hour bus ride to the town of Marthon France where the Chateau is located. When the bus arrived, I was seated in the circular driveway watching their faces pressed against the windows happy to see me as I to see them.
Tears of joy flowed from us all as the bus unloaded, with loving hugs exchanged, and a few were surprised to see me stand up from my chair. I had not seen most since I moved to Belgium for treatment.
The chateau’s host and hostesses escorted everyone to their rooms where each had their own oversized tricycles waiting for them. After some freshening up we took to our tricycles complete with complimentary wine glass holders to hold the wine that was served as we were escorted around the chateau’s property for a tour of the grounds. I was seated in a tricycle with a makeshift sidecar peddled by my son with my nurse following close behind on her tricycle.
Because of the advancing ages of some of my family and friends, it was fortunate each cycle was equipped with a blue-tooth speaker allowing the rider to hear the escort’s voice as she explained the garden’s designs, flowers and the quarter mile maze of hedges that stood 8-feet tall. The chateau’s extensive topiary garden was the crown jewel of the tour with shapes and designs to dazzle the imagination.
At the center of the garden stood the main party and dinner tent for the evening’s celebration. I personally pre-programed the music to be played from my personal selection of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Rhythm and Blues, Motown sounds and classic rock, that played continuously in the background.
Dinner was served at 7:00 pm, with Hors D’oeuvres to stimulate the appetite, a fish course, with vegetables followed by a small dish of lemon and lime sorbet to cleanse the palate and refresh our senses.
The main course was an elaborate thinly sliced brazened beef sirloin, and grilled pheasant garnished with vegetables served on the side.
The salad course was tossed greens with vinaigrette to cleanse the palate again. This was followed by a cheese plate with various types of cheeses and of course wine poured freely during the entire evening.
The sweet dessert course was an assortment of deliciously indulgent and beautifully decorated with freshly brewed coffee to accent the sweets.
During the dinner, stories and testimonials from family and friends held my attention from tears of joy to bellowing laughter.
When all of the courses were finished, fireworks began signaling the dance party under the big tent, and everyone danced well into the early morning.
At times throughout the event, I absorbed the moments watching my guests filling my heart with love and admiration, and I knew this was my last time seeing them all knowing they accepted my decision.
The party ended just after 3:00 am with everyone intoxicated, and my nurse exhausted from rolling me around the dance floor, and luckily she stayed sober.
It was the early afternoon when I said my goodbyes as I was traveling back to my home in Belgium. It was a tearful goodbye as we all cried, and my hospice van drove away understanding the love we shared as family and friends for my final goodbye.